Covid-19: India to export HCQ to foreign govts, not private firms: Report

Topics Coronavirus | India | United States

India manufactures 70 per cent of the world's supply of hydroxychloroquine.
The Indian government will only export the key Covid-19 drug, Hydroxychloroquine, to foreign government and not private companies as the product is under prohibited or banned category of exports. 

Although export of this medicine is completely banned, India has decided to export this anti-malarial drug on humanatarian grounds in view of the coronavirus pandemic to countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka who are in dire need of the drug, PTI reported.

Explaining the procedure, the news agency according to its sources said that countries that have to import hydroxychloroquine would have to route their application through the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals would assess the requirement sought by that country and see its impact on India's availability and without compromising on India's interests, it would recommend the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to give a licence or go-ahead signal to customs authorities to release the consignment.

DGFT is an arm of the commerce ministry that deals with export- and import-related issues. It is the agency that gives licence or permission or no-objection certificate for exports or imports.

On March 25, India banned export of hydroxychloroquine with some exceptions in the midst of views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight Covid-19. On April 4, it completely banned the exports without any exception.

In a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, US President Donald Trump had sought supply of hydroxychloroquine to the US. Trump also threatened retaliation if the request was not kept, following which the government lifted curbs and allowed export of the drug.

India is the largest producer and exporter of the drug globally. India is learnt to have received requests from over 20 countries including its immediate neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal for the supply.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry has stated that there is enough stock of hydroxychloroquine in the country, and drug firms are ready to ramp up the production to meet domestic as well as export requirements.

India manufactures 70 per cent of the world's supply of hydroxychloroquine. Companies like Zydus Cadila and IPCA are the major manufacturers in the country, according to the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).

Professor at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) Rakesh Mohan Joshi said India is the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of HCQ accounting for about 70 per cent of the world's supplies.

In the US market, India accounted for about 47 per cent supply of hydroxychloroquine in 2019, he said.

Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) Executive Director Ashok Kumar Madan has said India currently has an annual installed capacity of around 40 tonnes of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of hydroxychloroquine. With this capacity, "we can make around 200 million tablets of 200 mg," he has said.

India exported hydroxychloroquine API worth USD 1.22 billion in April-January 2019-20. During the same period export of formulations made from hydroxycholoroquine was at USD 5.50 billion.

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